October 1st is observed as World Vegetarian Day since 1977 across the globe. The Day was established by North American Vegetarian Society and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union to bring global attention to the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism.
World Vegetarian Day
World Vegetarian Day aims to raise awareness to ethical, environmental, health and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The day marks the beginning of a month-long celebration of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, which ends with World Vegan Day on November 1st.
Environment Benefits of Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism is very beneficial to the environment and ecology of the planet. One of the greatest threats the planet is facing these days is that of global warming. The governments, civil societies and businesses are spending billions of dollars to reduce their carbon footprint to slow the warming. Individuals can contribute towards the cause by adopting vegetarianism.
Meat farming releases more carbon than all the cars and the trucks in the world, according to the UN report of 2006. Reports show that cows and sheeps are responsible for nearly 37% of the total methane (23 times as warming as CO2) generated by human activity. It is important to note that methane emissions cause about half of the planet’s human-induced warming.
In addition to this, the livestock industry generates 64 per cent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain. The livestock industry also generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 300 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
Adopting vegetarianism also helps in conservation of water resource. In fact, estimates show that water required to produce one kilogram of beef range between 13,000 litres to 100,000 litres. This could be reduced significantly if a lot more people chose vegetarianism.
The livestock industry is also responsible for widespread deforestation and cultivation of vast tracks of land to facilitate grazing grounds for the domesticated animals. Wide-spread cultivation of the land ruins animals’ natural habitat and forces millions of them to be evicted from their homes each year, causing long-term harm to our wildlife.
Significance of World Vegetarian Day 2020
By choosing a vegetarian diet instead of one loaded with animal products, individuals can dramatically reduce the amount of land, water, and oil resources that they consume and the amount of pollution they otherwise might cause. In fact, by switching to a vegetarian diet, each person can save more than 100 animals each year from the horrific cruelty of the meat industry.
Vegetarianism is practised by a major chunk of Indian population for years. The culture of India, its beliefs, customs and religion has promoted the consumption of a vegetarian diet. In this context, the day is significant to the country each year. However, this year, World Vegetarian Day has gained another level of significance, because of the increasing prevalence of Zoonosis in the world.
COVID-19 Pandemic caused due to consumption of bats is not the first zoonosis that the world has been subjected to. Swine Flu, Nipah Virus, SARS, were all Zoonosis that are caused due to unrestricted human interference in the working of nature. The day is perfect to not only challenge the inhumane treatment of the animals but also to understand the horrors of disregarding the planet, its biodiversity and their needs for personal greed. It is the day to start appreciating vegetarianism and embrace it as much as we can, to collectively save life on our beloved planet.